One giant leap for reality TV

Every other channel has a full line-up of reality TV shows. It wasn’t until last week, though, that I realized the lengths we’d travel to find trashy, unscripted television.

An article from news site Examiner.com details the brainchild of Bas Lansdorp, a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands (the same country that gave us “Big Brother”) who plans to launch a reality television series about a group of men and women who will be forced to live together in an exotic location. Here’s the kicker: It’s on Mars.

The show, aptly named “Mars One,” takes an unorthodox and unprecedented approach to modern reality television, as it tries to capture the drama of life on the red planet. The potential for interplanetary catfights and fallouts is staggering. Columnist Tiffany Jansen writes, “Everything would be filmed: from space training to the months-long journey to Mars to their daily lives on the planet.”

The show is still in its early stages and is projected to cost $6 billion. If the program ever gets off the ground, figuratively or literally, it could be on-air for a while because of one unsettling fact: it’s a one-way trip.

Reality TV? On Mars? Have we exhausted all plots with hot naïve twenty-somethings on Earth that we have to send them to a different planet? The idea may seem ludicrous, but it’s actually quite marketable. While current reality stars milk the fame from their original mind-numbing series, Lansdorp’s concept is completely original.

I, for one, am curious to see how they will pull it off. Who wouldn’t be?

A show on Mars will be difficult to pull off, but the motivation for it is easy to understand. The show merely capitalizes on our desire to experience and peer into the lives of others from the comfort of our sofa. As a generation, we are constantly surrounded by the media and as a result, we’ve adopted a “nothing’s shocking” mindset. “Basketball Wives”? Snoozeville. “Toddlers in Tiaras”? Yawn. If anything, “Mars One” will be exciting, different — probably even dangerous — and, in a way, it’s sort of what we want out of our entertainment.

A show like “Mars One” might seem absurd, dangerous and even inhumane, but isn’t that why we love reality TV? Watching a houseful of destructive personalities slowly deteriorate is something we’ve enjoyed for years. The only difference now is that they’ll be a couple hundred million miles away.

Sadly, “Mars One” won’t be airing any time soon. Until then, we’ll continue to mourn the cancellation of “Jersey Shore” and hope that another socially marginal group gets picked up for a few seasons of delightful decadence.

I hate to admit it, but I hope it airs. Who knows, it could be a testament to human perseverance. And even if it’s not, we might at least get to see a couple of 2suits, space suits that “zip two astronaut lovers” in to make space romance a little less complicated.

 

Reach the columnist at schergos@asu.edu or follow him at @ShawnChergorsky

 

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